Emerging Technology Trends That Refocus the In-Store Experience
The retail industry has heard the narrative enough: online retail is disrupting and may even unseat traditional brick-and-mortar retailers sooner than later. But the data tells another story.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce accounted for only 10.2 percent of total U.S. retail sales at the close of Q1 2019. That evidence serves as an apt reminder that traditional retail stores still hold a sizable slice of the revenue pie, and they're not ceding their position any time soon despite what pundits may allege.
This reality prompts another question: What can traditional retailers do to retain and, most importantly, increase revenue and customer loyalty amid competition? A smart bet is investing in and better leveraging technology to provide exceptional customer experiences that online shopping cannot replicate.
As we enter peak retail season, here are a handful of trends brick-and-mortar retailers should consider when optimizing their shoppers’ in-store experiences.
Going Beyond Security: Leveraging In-Store Cameras for Next-Level Insights
Small business owners and traditional retailers live and die by understanding their customers’ wants and needs. At the same time, they want to know who is coming into their stores, how long they're staying, and what they're doing there. Uncovering and leveraging those consumer behavior insights can create opportunities for retailers to improve their in-store offerings. As a result, savvy retailers are increasingly relying on smart technologies (e.g., cameras and video surveillance) to learn more about their customers.
Today’s security cameras are so much more than simple recording devices. They hold smart device capabilities to capture patterns and valuable insights that can help inform strategy and decision making. With on-premise video, brick-and-mortar retailers can see what’s happening at their physical locations to learn more about their customers’ needs as well as see what excites them and what doesn’t. And now that video can provide a clearer picture, we’re even seeing retailers use video monitoring to gauge customer reactions and learn more about intent to purchase, which allows retailers to deploy salespeople at the right time. Gone are the days of the lurking salesman; now a customer can get treated to “white glove” service when he or she is ready — all because the business can see what's happening in-store in real time.
With security cameras today, it’s becoming less about if someone breaks in. It’s all about how these devices can bring actionable insights that drive revenue growth and improve customer loyalty.
Making the Most of Wi-Fi Analytics to Optimize Patron-Preferred Retail Environments
It goes without saying that people are doing more online, which makes retailers’ e-commerce activity easier to measure and analyze. But that doesn’t mean brick-and-mortar retailers can’t harness analytics, too. Today, shoppers’ mobile devices are only a reach away in their pocket or purse. With these devices attached to shoppers’ hips, there's an incredible opportunity for retailers to measure and analyze shoppers’ behaviors, patterns and preferences.
With customers’ smartphones constantly in-hand, retailers that offer Wi-Fi have more opportunities to learn about their customers than ever before. Wi-Fi analytics can tell retailers whether the customer is a first-time or frequent visitor, and for repeat customers, how much time they’ve spent in the past and where they spent it. Retailers that harness the power of this data can give themselves a competitive edge, all while optimizing their in-store environments.
By learning more about shoppers’ traffic patterns and preferences, retailers can maximize their in-store displays, placement of sales associates, and even develop individual promotions.
Additionally, because so many shoppers are connecting to Wi-Fi when shopping in-store, retailers have a “captive audience” on their log-in splash pages, where they can display advertisements, coupons or other marketing material to customers.
The Retail Tech Imperative
The current retail landscape presents challenges and opportunities, giving traditional retailers little choice but to embrace technological transformation head on to maximize customer loyalty, grow revenue, and establish a strong tech foundation to support future growth. Failing to do so could lead to missed opportunities to forge stronger customer relationships and optimize retail environments to grow revenue.
Christian Nascimento is vice president of product and premise services at Comcast Business, a leading technology provider delivering business solutions to over 1 million businesses.
Related story: New Tech Bridging Physical and Digital Retail Channels